LOC Chair ???????
The 7th Annual SANA convention, held in Chicago, Illinois, from July 5 to July 8, 2001, was a grand success. More than 350 persons of all ages joined this event of fun, music, songs, speeches, and some serious discussions. The local organizing committee consisting of Dr. Rafat Ansari, Dr. Ajaz Turk, and Dr. Ashfaq Turk had taken care of each small detail to ensure that every one had a wonderful time. The Sheraton Gateway Suites Hotel in Chicago had great rooms (actually suits) at a very reasonable rate, a beautiful dinning area, and excellent conference facilities. Indeed, this convention will go as one of the most memorable events in SANA s history.
Most participants arrived on the evening of July 5th. Many traveling from as far as Canada, Los Angles, Texas, San Francisco, New York, and Washington DC. After registering at the registration desk, they mingled with each other, engaging in intense conversations about Sindh, SANA, and other topics.
SANA MEDICAL SEMINAR (Friday, July 6th 9 AM to 12:30 PM)The morning of July 6th started with a delicious breakfast. At 9 AM sharp, the SANA Medical seminar proceedings started, where several Sindhi leading physicians presented the latest research and information in the medical field. Dr. Rafat Ansari moderated the session. Dr. Ashfaq Turk was the first presenter and shared his latest research in the field of Cardiology. His half-an-hour presentation covered the topics of Hyperlipidemea and pacemakers. He was followed by Dr. Bahu Shaikh, who talked about Supportive care in cancer Treatment. The focus of his presentation was the latest drugs to ease pre- and post chemotherapy treatment. Dr. Rafat Ansari spoke on the screening and prevention aspects of breast cancer. His presentation also included the role of diet and hereditary factors in cancer. He was followed by Dr. Bilal Ansari s presentation on Recent Advances in Cancer Treatment . He discussed several drugs that show promise in the cancer treatment. The last individual speaker of this session was Dr. Aijaz Turk, who made presentation on two important topics in the field of Gastro-enterology. He spoke on treatment of Hepatitis C and Gastro Esophageal Reflux diseases. The last segment of this session consisted of a panel discussion on the topic of Recent medical advances and their availability and usefulness in Sindh . Dr. Ali Mohammad Ansari moderated the discussion and the panelists were Dr. Aftab Shaikh, Dr. Rafat Ansari, Dr. Fahima Qalbani, Dr. Mehmood Qalbani, and Dr. Jan Mohammad Memon. The consensus seem to be that the poor health care infrastructure in Sindh and lack of awareness about preventive measures was so acute that it was almost impossible to deploy medical advances achieved in West in Sindh. Dr. Afzal Arain briefed the audience on an interesting program devised some Pakistani doctors under the auspicious of a Pakistani Doctors Association in North America (known as APNA). This program involves providing orientation and training in basic health and hygiene factors to the rural residents of a target area and hiring and training of 2-3 midwives to ensure proper care during birth. It was claimed that the areas where this program has been instituted, the morality rate has dropped significantly. At the conclusion of the seminar, a delicious lunch sponsored by Glaxo Pharmaceuticals was served to all participants.
GENERAL BODY MEETING (Friday, July 6th 2 PM to 5 PM)The General body meeting started with welcome address by Mr. Mohammad Ali Mahar, General Secretary of SANA. He welcomed the attendees and went over the agenda and ground rules for the meeting. Mr. Sani Panhwar, President of SANA, presented his report on the activities of SANA that have occurred since the new Executive Council (EC) took office on January 1, 2001. He particularly spoke about the new SANA Web site that has received rave reviews from every one who has visited the site. Other EC members who presented reports on the occasion included Mr. Zia Memon (Vice President), Mrs. Zeb Agha (Vice President, Women Affairs), Dr. Shoukat Ansari (Treasurer), Mr. Sajjad Siddiqui (Joint Secretary), and Dr. Badar Shaikh (Regional Secretary for East Zone). Some of the more interesting points from these presentations included the following information:
SANA FINANCES:$ 25,000 already collected in donations and sponsorships for the 17th SANA annual convention. This excludes the expenses for the convention that are yet to be paid. SANA s assets stood at about $ 70,000 before these expenses.
SANA SINDHI LANGUAGE COMMITTEE:Has achieved a good progress and arranged sale of inexpensive Sindhi-English dictionaries ($ 3 each) at the convention. The committee also proposed that March 4th be declared as the Sindhi Language Day . On this day, Sindhis throughout the world would celebrate Sindhiat and every Sindhi will speak, read, write in Sindhi language, eat Sindhi food, and wear Sindhi clothing.After the reports by EC members, Mr. Mahar Hussain Shah (former Vice President of SANA) presented several of SANA resolutions/position papers to the participants for discussion and approval. All resolutions/position papers were unanimously approved. The resolutions/position papers were written in the form of a letter to Secretary General of United Nations and cover the following areas:
DYING AGRICULTURE IN SINDH:This resolution/position paper discussed water shortage, agriculture tax versus income tax issues, conditions of farmers and land-holders and other practices and policies of Pakistani Federal government that have created a crisis of unprecedented proportion in Sindhs agriculture sector. It demanded that water distribution between various provinces be done on the basis of historical agreements instead of allowing Punjab a free hand to siphoning of the water from River Indus in excess of their due share. The paper added that if the justice and fairness were not restored to the agriculture, the people of Sindh would forever give up their hopes in the federation.
DECLINING EDUCATION IN SINDH:This resolution/position paper discussed worsening academic conditions in Sindh’s educational institutions. It demanded that the excessive budget that is being consumed by the Defense services of Pakistan be curtailed and redirected to the education sector. It demanded significant increase in budget allocation to the educational institutions of Sindh.
INCREASING UNEMPLOYMENT IN SINDH:
This resolution/position paper described the desperate unemployment situation faced by Sindhis in Sindh. The discrimination against them in both private and public sectors is causing a tremendous pressure on families that has resulted unprecedented increase in suicide rate among Sindhis. The resolution demanded that the governments of Pakistan and Sindh immediately take steps to eliminate official and unofficial discriminatory policies and practices against Sindhis and institute a pro-active equal opportunity program with targets that require government and public sectors to achieve representation of Sindhis in proportion to the their population ratio. It further demanded that Pakistan should adopt similar programs to what the government of the United States has done for its minorities. In particular, all government contracts awarded in Pakistan should require that the companies that are owned by Sindhis and Baluchis must be subcontracted be allocated certain percentage of the work.
RESTORING AUTONOMY AND SOVEREIGNTY FOR SINDH:
This resolution/position paper traced the history of the creation of Pakistan and noted that Sindhis voted for Pakistan with the understanding that the constituent provinces (states) will enjoy full autonomy and sovereignty in the new country. After Pakistan was created, the groups who have assumed the control of Pakistan have forgotten those commitments. The increasing tendency by the federal government to centralize powers is a gross violation of the Pakistan’s charter. The position paper demanded that only four areas (Defense, Currency, Foreign Affairs, and inter-provincial affairs) are to be controlled by the federal government and all remaining areas are to be reverted to the provinces in accordance with the 1940 Pakistan Resolution.
PROTECTIG PROPERTY RIGHTS OF SINDHIS:
This resolution stated that where as Sindh has seen migration of unprecedented nature from other provinces and countries, this has considerably diluted the polarity of natives in Sindh. To protect the historic national rights of Sindhis, it is demanded that the right to purchase properties in Sindh be restricted to those who are born in Sindh. In addition, the government should undertake serious steps to arrange return of recent immigrants to their provinces and countries.
PRESERVING SINDHI LANGUAGE:
This resolution/position paper expressed alarm on the unfair treatment given to Sindhi language in Pakistan. It demanded that the existing laws that require instruction in Sindhi language be strictly enforced. All government officials appointed in Sindh must be well-versed in Sindhi language and new Television and radio stations be started to broadcast all programming in Sindhi language. Until these stations are opened, the portion of Sindhi language be increased to at least 60% on all broadcasting that are located in Sindh.
SINDHI PHILANTHROPIC ORGANIZATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA SEMINAR(Friday, July 6th 5 PM to 6 PM)Dr. Roshan Shaikh moderated a seminar on the synchronization and coordination of activities between various Sindhi philanthropic organizations. He listed SANA US Science & Educational Foundation (USEF), and Hidaya as the main open Sindhi organizations operating in North America. To this list, others added WSI, WSC and Dada Vishnu Mission as other Sindhi open philanthropic organizations. Suggestions for achieving synchronization of activities between these organizations were discussed at length. Some felt that amalgamation of these multiple organizations would produce more effective results, yet others felt diversity of these organizations provided opportunities to maximize contributions. One point of view was that as the population of Sindh-based Sindhis was quite low in North America, the funds that could be collected from this segment of the population would not be sufficient to undertake tangible projects in Sindh. A suggestion was made that these contributions be used to influence larger charitable organizations in North America to divert their charitable funds to Sindh. The meeting ended with the consensus that regardless of the diversity of the opinions, Sindhi philanthropic organizations must cooperate with each other and undertake joint projects for the welfare of Sindhis.
SINDH RIGHTS COMMITTEE MEETING (Friday, July 6th 6:30 PM to 68:30 PM)
Mr. Iqbal Tareen moderated a meeting of Sindh Rights Committee. In addition to the committee members, several other attendees including representatives of other Sindhi organizations attended the session. Mr. Tareen gave an impressive account of the activities that SRC has been able to organize to-date. He talked about the recent protest marches in front of the Pakistan embassy in Washington DC and UN Headquarters in New York on the water issue as examples of the joint successful activities with other Sindhi organizations. Many expressed satisfaction with his leadership of the committee and urged him to continue his leadership until an effective infrastructure was in place for coordinating a unified struggle for Sindhi rights. Mr. Sohail Ansari, President WSI assured full cooperation of his organization with SANA and WSC and stated that WSI was ready to work on any joint projects that benefit Sindh and Sindhis. Dr. Saraki of WSC also expressed satisfaction with the progress-achieved to-date but urged expansion of these contacts. He invited SANA and WSI leaders to join the international conference on Sindhi rights that are being organized by WSC in London, UK on July 28th. In the end all participants expressed solidarity with the Sindhi cause and made commitments to foster comradeship among Sindhi organizations and jointly take initiative to help to create a similar cooperative environment in Sindh.
AN EVENING OF ENTERTAINMENT (Friday, July 6, 10 PM to 1 AM)The last item of the day was a program of music and songs. A group based in the USA put up quite an impressive performance that consisted of songs in Sindhi, Urdu, and other languages.
The 7th Annual SANA convention, held in Chicago, Illinois, from July 5 to July 8, 20001, was a grand success. More than 350 persons of all ages joined this event of fun, music, songs, speeches, and some serious discussions. Like the first day, the second day too was packed with events that kept attendees busy.
Running little bit late, the second day started with a delicious breakfast and informal katchaharies (small group discussions) until the organizers started urging that people move to the main conference hall so that the first session of the day could be started.
PAINTING EXHIBITION BY RIZWAN ALI UMRANI (6th and 7th July – All day)
An exhibition of paintings by well-known artist of Sindh, Mr. Rizwan Ali Umrani attracted large crowds. As some of you know Rizwan has a year round exhibition of his works at his famous "Mother Gallery" in Larkana. A critic’s comment summarizes Riawan’s beautiful work quite appropriately: "He uses sharp visible, bright, dense and dark colors, which are the colors of Sindh rather than dim and invisible colors. His artistic work is a window from which one can see the glimpses of real Sindh".
"MEETING OF MINDS"
SESSION (July 7th — 10 AM to 1 PM)
TOPIC: Role of SANA for Sindhi Community of North America
MODERATOR: Dr. Ali Muhammad Ansari
PANELISTS: Khalid Hashmani, Iqbal Tareen, Roshan Shaikh, Shoukat Ansari, and Azra Haque
This important session covered many aspects of SANA dynamics including controversial and non-controversial topics.
Dr. ALI MOHAMMAD ANSARI, is a well-known physician of Sindh and is a former Secretary of Health of Pakistan. He regularly travels to North America and has shared his views and experiences by addressing past SANA conventions. In his introductory remarks talked about the importance of SANA in organizing Sindhi community in North America. He added that SANA has to play more active role to keep Sindhi community united. The SANA platform offers unique opportunities for North American Sindhis to keep their culture alive and to interact with Sindhis who live in Sindh and elsewhere in the world. He urged participants to do some "out of box" thinking and come up with interesting and workable suggestions for maximizing the participation of women, children and youth in SANA activities.
Dr. ROSHAN SHAIKH, is a network expert and owner of a private network consultation company. Recently, he wrote a book titled "The Principles of Networking" that is being published by two leading US-based publishers. He is a founder member of SANA and promoter of many charitable and educational projects in Sindh. He started his speech with emphasis on the importance of being charitable in achieving personal growth and serving the Sindhi community. He talked about high ideals of SANA and an urgent need for uniting all North American Sindhis. He noted that the sad fact was that not all Sindhis were present at the convention and said the unity can only be possible if the justice was done to those who feel aggrieved. He challenged the current leadership of SANA to approach this issue seriously and organize a set of concrete steps that will address grievances of all Sindhis and not try to achieve unity with only "Forgive and Forget" slogan.
Mr. KHALID HASHMANI, is a computer professional, first President of SANA, and an activist for unifying all overseas Sindhi organizations. He stated that today’s topic has been the focus from the day one of the SANA’s life. In his view, the first objective from the SANA Charter document "To create a sense of brotherhood, cooperation, and cohesion among Sindhis living in North America" should be the key defining principle for SANA’s role. He added that we must all recognize that SANA is an organization of people who have a variety of religious, ideological, and political views but wish to interact with each on the platform of SANA only as Sindhis. To serve all of our community well, we must respect this diversity, show tolerance to the views of others, and ensure that no one feels being left out with what we do on the platform of SANA.
Mr. IQBAL TAREEN, is a manager in a computer personnel company and a former President of SANA. He is a well known Sindhi activist, who in his student days, played an important role in keeping Sindhi student movement focused on Sindhiat. In addition to the importance of uniting North American Sindhis and maintaining close working relationships among various Sindhi groups, SANA has to offer special programs to keep Sindhi youth interested in our culture and language. He added that the continued interest of Sindhi youth in SANA offers our only hope to keep Sindhi culture and Sindhi language alive here in North America. He also urged special programs for SANA women. He added that for a dynamic organization, it is essential to have all SANA men, SANA women, and SANA youth to equally feel that SANA is serving them.
Dr. SHOUKAT ANSARI, is a senior electrical engineer with a major international consulting company. He is the current Treasurer of SANA and an active member of San Francisco Sindhi community. He talked about the need of frequent contact among North American Sindhis. This is particularly challenging since our community is small and spread over a large continent. On top of this, strong North American culture makes it difficult to keep our children interested in Sindhi culture. The annual SANA conventions and periodic regional get-togethers provide excellent opportunity, but we need to do more. He recommended that the institution of SANA chapters be strengthened to increase the community interaction. He hoped that in each locality where-ever there are at least 5-6 Sindhi families, a SANA chapter would be beneficial. On behalf of SANA Executive Committee, he offered to help Sindhis who would like to form chapters in their localities.
Dr. AZRA HQUE, isa well-known Sindhi physician and education expert. She talked about the importance of education if Sindhis were to overcome economic backwardness. In today’s competitive environment, only the communities that are equipped with education and skills can achieve progress. She urged SANA to play an active role in spreading awareness about education to rural Sindhis and instituting special programs for Sindhi children here in North America. She recommended that SANA to organize targeted programs for children that emphasize education in religion and cultural aspects would help to retain Sindhi identity.
An intense question-answer period followed after the panelists shared their initial views. Some of the key questions that were hotly debated are as follows:
- A suggestion was made that since most participants at the SANA conventions were Muslims, each convention session be started with an ‘ayat’ from Quran Sharif.. Those opposed this suggestion stated that SANA was a secular organization and our members have a variety of religious affiliations. If we started proceeding with recital from one religious book then we will have recite from other books.
- The causes for women’s lack of participation in SANA functions attracted some strong opinions. The educated Sindhi men were told to recognize that the tradition of male dominated community would keep Sindhis backward and behind the times. They were urged to proactively encourage women to assume an active role in community affairs and just not be relegated to take care of children and household affairs. The Sindhi women were urged to come forward and be active and the Sindhi men were urged to be tolerant of the diversity that women’s active participation may bring.
- There was an sharp discussion about the mandatory $75 per person registration fee at the SANA convention that included five meals. Some members felt the fee was reasonable and a great value that ensured that every one in the community got more opportunities to meet with each other instead of families forced to look for different eating place in and outside of the hotel. The opponents of the registration believed that the $ 75 per person was a large sum for a family with limited income who had children. They felt that the fees prevented many from attending the convention. Many more would have attended if they did not have to pay the high fees. Others suggested that a reasonable compromise would have been to keep the registration free and offer a meal plan that could be purchased on an optional basis.
Although no one wanted to leave this interesting and highly interactive session, the organizers had to warn that the session had continued much beyond the meal start time and that we had gone past the lunch time.
(July 7th — 3 PM to 7 PM)
MODERATOR: Mr. Iqbal Tareen
PANELISTS: Najamuddin Shaikh, Nooruddin Sarki, Anwar Pirzado, Ms. Qamar Wahid, Memon Abdul Jabbar and Rasool Bux Palijo
Mr. NAJAMUDDIN SHAIKH, is a senior diplomat of Pakistan, who has been ambassador of Pakistan to Canada, Japan, and other countries. The topic of his presentation was Pakistan’s relations with USA and India. He very eloquently gave separate analysis of the factors that have played role in shaping the relations of Pakistan with USA and India. The fall of Soviet Union as the second super power has had a profound impact on the relationship of Pakistan with both USA and India. India, which used to be closer to Soviet Union, has now much improved relations with USA, where as Pakistan’s close religious and cultural relationships with Muslim states of central Asia have increased Pakistan’s strategic importance. The plans to construct oil pipeline from central Asia to Persian Gulf through Pakistan and construction of the proposed sea port in Persian Gulf will increase the influence of Pakistan in the region. In an answer to a question, Mr. Shaikh said that financial viability of Gawadar Seaport is highly dependent upon the construction of the oil pipeline from Central Asia. In reply to another question as to why so few Sindhis are employed in Pakistan’s foreign embassies and missions, he said that partly it is because most of the clerical positions are filled locally and partly because of the reluctance of rural Sindhis to work in foreign countries. He told the questioner that if he knew any suitable and qualified Sindhis who were interested to work at the clerical positions in foreign missions, he would gladly help them to secure jobs.
Mr. NOORUDDIN SARAKI, is a veteran Sindhi politician, who once headed the communist party of Sindh. He is an attorney by profession and is in the forefront in fight for economic and political rights of poor Sindhis. He has been active in Sindhi politics since his student days. He stated that the Pakistan was created on the premise that its provinces will enjoy autonomy in accordance of 1940 resolution. Sindh, which has been an independent nation for much of its history voted for Pakistan and not for India because the proponents of Pakistan promised autonomy to it but the proponents of united India would not make such promises. Look! what has happened now, the provinces in the country whose leaders did not promise autonomy enjoy more autonomy than the provinces in the country that was created for the very reason that its provinces will enjoy autonomy and sovereignty. He added the topography of Sindh has much changed since the pre partition days. Sindh’s larger cities now have significant non-Sindhi populations, who are reluctant to adopt Sindhi culture and Sindhi language. This has complicated matters for Sindhis, who must now work harder, intelligently and persistently to safeguard their existing rights and fight to win those rights that were promised in 1940 resolution.
ANWAR PIRZADO, is a distinguished journalist and writer from Sindh. He has been associated with leading newspapers of Pakistan including Dawn. He was once an officer in Pakistan Air Force, where he suffered a court marshal at the hands of rulers of Pakistan for writing a letter that talked about the plight of East Pakistanis (now Bangladeshis). His presentation gave a detailed account of politics and economics of water shortage for Sindhis. He talked about the history of water treaties and accords. He said that Punjab has consistently broken these treaties and accords to keep Sindhis subjugated to its domination. While Sindh’s crops remain decimated, Punjab’s production is at the record levels. On top of it, the government of Pakistan has forced Sindh, on occasions, to purchase Punjab” produce at highly inflated prices. He warned that Sindh, which once produced world’s best rice would probably cease to be a rice-producing region due to the water shortage. He demanded that if Sindh’s agriculture is to survive, the historic Sindh-Punjab Water accord of 1945 must be implemented.
Ms. QAMAR WAHID, is a professor at Sindh University and a very active Sindhi woman academician. She has struggled against the plight of Sindhis and particularly Sindhi women for much of her adult life. She talked about the terrible conditions in Sindh, where, each day, Sindhis are being pushed behind by the Federal government run by Punjabis and the provincial government dominated by Urdu speaking. Sindhis have more or less become an audience to their fate. They can see what is happening to them but cannot do anything to change the course of destruction that is being laid for their culture and language. Every non-Sindhi who arrives in Sindh feels that they own it and that Sindhis are rural and backward people who do not deserve to progress. The discrimination against Sindhis in jobs, scholarships, and other opportunities is so acute that one feels that Sindh has become an occupied territory of 18th century where the victor can plunge anything of the defeated people. She told the audience that they would be living in the dream world if they think they are going to bring a change by sending few thousand dollars for charitable and educational projects. What is needed is concerted effort to unite Sindhis and an intense pressure on the government to make changes that will ensure the survival of Sindhis as a cultural nation.
Mr. MEMON ABDUL JABBAR, is a entrepreneur from Karachi and an activist who has taken on the challenge to help Sindhis to become more competitive and educated. He said that like rest of the world, Pakistan is a much changed place, where political struggle based on old tactics will not be successful. The situation is so much controlled that even when Sindhi politicians are elected to high positions, they cannot effectively help Sindhis. The time has come when educated Sindhis have to go beyond flowery speeches and drawing room politics and start helping their Sindhi brothers and sisters to improve their skills and education. The affluent Sindhis of North America should work closely will universities and other educational institutions in Sindh to bring about a basic change, where rural Sindhis are able to resist Sindhi and non-Sindhi tyrants.
Mr. RASOOL BUX PALIJO, is the head of Awami Tahreek, which is one of the major political parties in Sindh. Mr. Palijo has resisted each and every tyrant who has attempted to hurt the political and economic rights of Sindhis. During the recent artificially created water shortage, he and his party started a mass movement that is now joined by other Sindhi groups. True to his reputation, his was the most eloquent speech that covered many aspects of the plight of Sindh and Sindhis. He touched every nerve and every soul in the conference hall with his references to world history and analogies from world battles. He urged every educated Sindhi to read more – learn more about world history, freedom struggles, and particularly the military and political strategies. You don’t need every Sindhi to be educated to bring about a change. What you need is smart leaders and smart middle class who can predict and understand each move of adversary and quickly make a counter move and take an offensive move, when appropriate. He added that he was quite hopeful in the ability of Sindhis to withstand all onslaughts and ultimately come out victorious. Let! there be no doubt that these Sindhi Sapoots and followers of Shah Abdul Latif will never give up on their rights. They will not vanish in the history. They will resist and fight until they are victorious. By this time every one in the audience so attentive that other than his words, there was no other sound. Even the Sindhi infants, who never seem to stop crying, seem to have been taken aback by what was happening around them. Most in the audience were impressed with Mr. Palijo’s analysis and articulation of Sindhi issues, his hopes and his encouragement that Sindh is worth living for and Sindh is worth dying for. As he finished his speech, almost all of the audience arose, giving a memorable standing ovation, a rare occurrence in SANA conventions, to one their aging sons who had really moved them today.Although no one really wanted to end the session, time constraints forced it to close it after only 3-4 questions. Many will remember this session where people of diverse yet converging views helped to clarify issues surrounding the plight of Sindhis and made suggestions to help overcome it.
ANNUAL BANQUET DINNER AND SINDHI SHAM (July 7th – 8:00 PM to 2 AM)After a 5-course dinner buffet attended by almost all registered participated in a huge banquet hall, a wonderful program that starred Ustad Mazhar Hussain and Ms Shirazi took place. It was an evening of many memorable songs, delicious music, and recognition. Students who had performed well in their schools by securing at least 3.5 grade point average were awarded certificates and small prizes. Dr. Gul Agha was recognized for arranging short internships for four Sindhi students of Mehran University to attend 2-month research programs at the University of Illinois. These four students were introduced and they spoke few words about their experiences. The biggest applause went to the organizers of this convention who had once again proven that when Sindhis take on a responsibility, no one could match them in the perfect execution. A resolution asked SANA Executive Council to approach all individual and groups of Sindhis who had left the fold of SANA once again join hands on the platform of SANA. For the next year’s convention, the audience voted for New York. Ustad Mazhar Hussain sang several old compositions and some of recent compositions that were enjoyed by every one. Although, not a native Sindhi speaker, Ms. Shirazi sang several Sindhi songs that hit very well with the audience. The evening finally ended with one of the largest Ho Jamalo on this side of Michigan Lake.
MEXICAN BRUNCH (hosted by Local Organization Committee)(July 8th – 9 AM to12 PM)The dreaded morning had so soon arrived when every one had to say good bye to each other. One could see groups of children exchanging their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, ladies securing commitments from each other on attending next year’s SANA convention, and male folks were seen talking about the convention that was ending and the plans for the next year’s convention in New York. Although the brunch was delicious, people were not too happy that this grand event was ending so soon.
Indeed it was a grand event that we hope will become grander each year. cities be restored.
SANA’s 17th Annual Convention was a great bonding experience for all participants. It was a great opportunity to renew relations and make new friendships. It was an opportunity for removing distances and building bridges. It was a profound moment of Sindhyat, which has kept us together regardless of our ideological, political or religious preferences. It was an outstanding event, which will stay fresh in our memories for many years to come. In many ways, it became a benchmark in its own right. The large participation indicates a renewed interest in SANA’s positive role in the community and its moral stand on issues threatening the security of Sindhi nation.
On behalf of my family and many others we spoke during and after the convention, I congratulate Dr. Rafat & Mrs. Ansari, Dr. Ashfaq & Mrs. Turk, Dr. Aijaz & Mrs. Shaikh, Dr. Sattar & Mrs. Shaikh and our ever shining star Dr. Aijaz Turk and Mrs. Turk for organizing such a grand event. We are also thankful to SANA President, Sani Panhwar, SANA General Secretary Mohammed Ali Mahar, SANA VPs Zia Memon & Adi Zeb Agha, SANA Joint Secretary Sajjad Siddiqui, SANA Zonal Secretary Dr. Badar Shaikh and my very dear friend piyaro Shoukat Ansari for their leadership and hard work. Let me also thank all other EC, AC members and volunteers who devoted their valuable time and resources to make this a memorable event for all of us.
We can’t ignore the role of Internet and various Sindhi lists providing instant information on SANA convention. I must commend Dr. Mazhar Lakho and the previous EC who gave us SANALIST and SANA website. Due special efforts and interest of SANA President Sani Panhwar, we have now a highly informative and inclusive website (www.sanalist.org). I must also thank Dr. Nadeem Jamali and Dr. Saghir Shaikh for helping SANA in these e-media initiatives. These lists have generally reduced the distances between us, which are otherwise debilitating and deceptive. Although the freedom of speech can easily be stretched to become an assault on someone else’s freedom of thought. The privilege of exercising freedom goes hand-in-hand with the responsibility. Toying with freedom is always inherent in newly freed individuals and nations. Give it some time. The virtue of freedom and responsibility will soon become our greatest asset.
Our humble gratitude goes to chief guest Rasool Bux Palijo, keynote speaker Mr. Najamddin Shaikh and our guest speakers, Nooruddin Sarki, Anwar Pirzado, Dr. Qamar Wahid, Memon Abdul Jabbar and Mr. Aijaz Kerio for contributing their valuable thoughts and enlightening our community. We are indebted to gracious participation by WSC Chief Safdar Sarki and WSI Chief Sohail Ansari. Their full participation in this event sent out a clear message of unity amongst all Sindhis living in North America.
How could anyone ignore larger than life presence of Dr. Roshan Shaikh. His report and seminar on charitable initiatives generated an immense interest in the positively impacting social projects launched in Sindh. Dr. Gul Agha also very proudly introduced four bright engineers from Mehran University. These computer engineers were visiting USA on a special sponsorship by the University of IL at Champaign. This internship program was conceived by Dr. Agha to provide lifetime learning opportunity to young graduates of our universities.
The convention was uniquely blessed with an opportunity to discuss strategies about the future growth of SANA. This segment was honored with valuable suggestion of Dr. Ali Mohammed Ansari, former SANA President, Khalid Hashmani, Nooruddin Sarki, Dr. Roshan Shaikh, Dr. Qamar Wahid and others. A musical evening with Mazhar Hussain was an icing on the cake. Lack of interest by youth in SANA activities was not an exclusively and proprietary problem of this convention alone. It is a generic phenomenon with all overseas Desi organizations. We have been debating about this issue in SANA since 1987. In the past, we got away with a mere menu of children’s activities and expected full compliance. Yesterday’s infants have now become adults. They are aggressively asserting their autonomy. They are relating to different set of issues than ours. To us Sindh might be the number one issue to them it is not.
In an exclusive meeting with youth, we discovered the real reason behind their apathy. We wrongly assume that the Sindhi youth is one homogeneous group. Within our youth, there are various sub-groups divided by age groups and thus subscribing to different interests. We found that the Sindhi youth will not participate wholeheartedly on a structured plan prescribed by us. I recommend that we ask them to design their own program for the next convention in New York. I don’t think they want us to hold their hands. In many ways they are way smarter and confident than us to decide for themselves. We must try to provide what they request.
This convention adopted various resolutions in its general body meeting, which drew larger crowd than in the past. Although there was room for improvements, but the overall interest in genuine issues of Sindhi people and serious audience participation was highly assuring. The resolutions were presented and reasonably discussed. Proposed amendments were introduced, debated and passed. Dissents and abstentions were recognized and noted. All amendments were dully incorporated into the resolutions. Before releasing the resolutions to the press, they were submitted to those who had tabled the amendments and had moved new resolutions.
SANA’s 17th General Body Meeting adopted following Resolutions:
Resolution adopted by the General Body (GB) meeting of the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) at 17th Annual Convention being held at Chicago, July 5-8, 2001
The participants of the General Body meeting of the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) being held at Chicago, during Annual Convention, July 5-8, 2001 resolve that:
SANA General Body requests UN Intervention
SANA General Body urges United Nations Secretary General to intervene, help mitigate and monitor Sindh’s primary legal right over water of River Indus. Conditions leading to famine are being produced in Sindh by creating artificial shortage of water. A deliberate Plan has been worked out to turn Sindh into arid desiccated zone or desert. The construction of Kalabagh Dam and numerous other irrigation projects upstream the River Indus, as well as flagrant violation of previous inter-provincial water apportionment accords is a part of that well choreographed plan. Such policies of the Pakistani Government as are meant to destroy the agriculture and agro-based economy of Sindh. Water Accords and apportionment formulas imposed on Sindh in violation of the earlier accords made during the British period is cancelled. Sindh be given water share according to the 1945 inter-provincial water accord.
- In order to maintain an environmental balance and ecosystem the River Indus flows down stream Kotri barrage should immediately be released. Thousand of Sindhi Fishermen’s livelihood is dependent on this river-water flow.
- The conspiracy of ruining Sindh by allowing saline, polluted and poisonous water of Punjab to flow to the Sea through Indus River is condemnable.
- The Left and Right Bank Outfall Drains (LBOD and RBOD) plans should be revised suitably in accordance with the objections of Sindhis.
- The Government should immediately take the measures to rehabilitate Manchar Lake and other wetlands and formulate a management plan, working with the local communities for conservation of such places, the source of local people’s livelihood.
- Similarly steps should be taken to conservation of Khir Thar National Park, in consultation with the local communities. There is a need to establish zoning plan in order to sustain ecological attributes of the Park.
- Heavy, arbitrary and multiple agriculture taxes on farmers / growers should be done away with at once. Instead, one simple agriculture tax should be levied based on the realistic factors, which include: (a) Ability to pay (income), (b) soil fertility, (c) availability of irrigation water, (d) occurrence or absence of adverse climatic conditions (floods, draught, storms, etc.). Traditional system of land revenue assessment by ‘tapedars’ should be abolished and modern system of self-assessment should be introduced. Farmers with 20 acres or less land should be exempted from any tax to boost agriculture and alleviate poverty.
The people of Sindh also demand that the Land record in Sindh should be computerized and made easily accessible to anyone in need. Arbitrary conversion of agriculture lands into urban residential or commercial lands on the outskirts of towns and cities of Sindh are leading to rapid depletion of fertile agriculture land and adding to environmental degradation in the region. Such practice should be stopped and only those areas, which are unfit for agriculture use, may be incorporated to expanding cities and towns or for establishing industries. Appropriate standardized town planning methods should be adopted for this purpose. There are communities living in vast areas of both rural area as well as in the midst of cities of Sindh that are still deprived of the basic human needs of electricity, potable drinking water, drainage, roads, education, and health facilities. In fact, there are communities whose civil amenities and facilities have retrogressed in the last fifty years because of the callousness and uncivil behavior of the persons and groups in the ruling civil and military authorities.
People living in such communities have otherwise been highly productive, providing essential services to the country and the society in general in the sectors of agriculture, dairy, fishery, etc. in total disregard to Human and Civil Rights. Ignoring such communities for such a long time is an act of crime that both the Federal and Provincial governments have been perpetrating on the people of Sindh. These areas include rural areas in
Sindh as well as Sindhi suburbs of the big cities like Karachi and Hyderabad in the midst of illuminated areas of these big cities exist these pockets of Sindhi residents who have been ignored for the last fifty years. These neglected areas include villages like Ibrahim Hyderi, Liyari, Malir, Shantinagar, Bhitaiabad of Karachi, which are populated by Sindhis and Balochs. Similarly the residential areas of Qasimabad and outskirts of Hyderabad have not provided with any civil amenities.
The Central and Provincial Governments in the past have tried to destroy the economic infrastructure and backbone of the people of Sindh by
- grabbing the provincial economic resources: lands, agriculture, businesses, gas, oil, customs duties, even highways,
- Misusing the privatization proceeds,
- misusing government funds,
- misappropriating Sindh’s share in donor funded assistance projects.
SANA demands Sindh’s sovereignty as envisioned in Pakistan resolution
IntroductionThe real crisis in Pakistan is caused by an over-centralized architecture of Pakistani state and government. Throughout the history of Pakistan, the concentration of power by a few in the name of many has unleashed massive state abuse in the country. Flagrant violations of peoples’ deed as envisioned in the covenants of Pakistan Resolution has pitched people against the people in a country that was founded by its multinational partners. Let it be known that the Sindh’s entry in the union was contingent upon continuity of its sovereignty, equal and fully vested equity in the nation’s prosperity, guaranteed individual and collective human rights.
People of Sindh have had to bear the greatest burden of the negation of promises and disregard for the rule of civility and the law. The question of provincial autonomy is therefore, of a paramount importance in the context of ensuring political control by the people of Sindh over matters, which are their primary concern. The word ‘Autonomy’ and ‘Sovereignty’ of the constituent units was enshrined as the basic and cardinal principle of 1940 resolution to safeguard against the hegemony and encumbrance on the rights and sovereignty of constituent states.
Pakistan rulers should respect the document of 1940 resolution, which Provided the basis for the creation of Pakistan. They should provide maximum autonomy to the federating units imbibed in the federation of Pakistan.
- Federal government should have no authority to remove the provincial Governments, or to dissolve provincial legislatures through an executive order.
- The center should retain only 4 departments viz. Defense, Currency, Foreign Affairs and Communications. The rest should be handed over to provinces, thereby abolishing the concurrent list.
- The Provincial employees should run the administration at all levels of provincial government, and the practice of earmarking posts in the provincial governments for the officers of the central cadres should be discontinued. Further, those employees of the provincial governments, who belong to any other province should be repatriated to their home province or be absorbed by the federal government.
Promote Academic Security in Sindh
As a result of decades of misplaced priorities, successive Pakistani governments have paid no attention to the Academic Security of the country. Sindh being at the short end of the stick suffers the most from a systematic destruction of academic standards in its institutions. Pakistan has maintained its core academic philosophy of producing Babus which is cloned after British Raj. It creates a class of privileged servants whose personal growth and professional security depends upon the extension of the colonial culture. It is designed to maintain lowest levels of marketable skills in targeted population groups.
In order to guarantee state interference, government agencies actively create and finance higher levels of strife and political polarity in Sindh’s academia. Their operative student/teacher groups deliver the desired chaos and instability. At the higher level, these objective are achieved through hand picked administrators and linkage of grants and resource allocations with political goals.
SANA demands that the education in Sindh and Pakistan be given similar priority as the Defense policy of Pakistan. SANA is outraged at the government and political interference in the academic institutions of Sindh.We resent the ill-intended handling of our educational institutions. We demand that Teacher/Parent/Student bodies be formed to create and maintain academic peace in Sindh. We also demand that there should be more emphasis on math, computer literacy, science, and English subjects rather than irrelevant and subjective state indoctrination of our youth. We demand that the Teacher/Parent/Student bodies should be given maximum say in formulating academic & administrative policies and oversight of educational institutions.
SANA appeals Sindhi youth to defeat anti-education conspiracy in Sindh by taking control of their own destiny. The true freedom lies in eliminating the dependence. We urge students to focus on acquiring marketable skills, which will eliminate any reliance on government jobs. We urge teachers, parents and students to form a strong alliance for academic peace in Sindh. Teachers, parents and students must work together to influence introduction of modern academic programs and syllabus in Sindh’s institutions. Sindhi youth must refuse to react to any state engineered provocation. The reactive actions only trigger avalanche of self-destructing acts, which further weaken our national assets of human capital.
Rights of Women and minorities.The Declarations made by the United Nations with regard to Human Rights, Rights of Prisoners, Rights of Women, Rights of Children, Rights of Workers, Rights of Minorities, and Rights of other groups who are deprived, should be followed in letter and spirit.
The Rights of Women have been violated in Pakistan throughout the half-century of its existence. The women have been subjected to unfair servitude, denying them the right of education, denying or violating their genuine right of holding and enjoying the property, and subjecting them to inhuman and illegal violence.
- The state sponsored policy of treating women, as second-class citizens should be abolished at once. The stone age curse of honor killings including Karo-Karee should be declared unlawful and those found guilty of the crime shall be awarded capital punishment.
- Women should be provided their fundamental rights and equal opportunity in livelihood, education and progress
- The minorities should be given full protection, right of joint electorate as well as due share in employment, admissions in academic institutions, and other developmental activities.
- The real democracy, independent judiciary, supremacy of law and accountability should be ensured. Sectarianism and terrorism in the name of religion should be stopped, all religious places of worship of different religions, communities and minorities be provided full security.
ResolutionThe 1991 Census was not accepted as it reflected true size of Sindh’s population and hence would have affected resource distribution formula. Either 1991 census is accepted or a fresh impartial, foolproof census is held under international supervision to assess true size of population and other census data of Sindh and other provinces of Pakistan.
Sindh and National Finance CommissionThe National Finance Commission’s Award should not be based on population criteria alone, as has been the practice in the past. Instead it should be based on the following factors:
- Index of infrastructure in the province.
- Index of backwardness in the province.
- Percentage of poor in the province.
- Level of per capita income in comparison to other provinces.
- Revenue generation capacity of the province.
- Burden of legal and illegal immigrants, and lastly, the size of the population.
Moreover, an unbiased appraisal of the negative consequences of NFC Award should be carried out immediately and the 6 NFC Award must provide fair rectification of the financial injustices to Sindh.
Sindh’s right on its revenue
The goods on which custom duties are levied enter Pakistan through Karachi by Air or by sea, but the Federal Government levies the customs duties and almost all of the revenue generated through these ports. A farcical concept of Dry Ports in Lahore and Islamabad is also meant to deprive Sindh of its right to levy taxes on imports and exports passing through its territory. This is also in contravention of the international law and is meant to deprive the Sindh of her sources of income.
We demand an end to this piracy and ask Pakistan government to treat ports of Sindh as its rightful natural resources, just like generation of hydro-electricity, which has been accepted as natural resources of North West Frontier Province. Sindh should be given the royalty for the use of its ports and shall be provided revenue generated through these ports and all dry ports made in other province should be abolished forthwith. Proper royalty be given to Sindh for oil, gas and other minerals extracted from Sindh. It is right of Sindhi people to own and possess all the minerals and natural resources found in Sindh. These resources should be given under control of the Sindhi people. GST revenues to the provinces Rights of all GST revenues should be transferred to the provinces.
Extension of Credit facilities to non-urban areas. Like urban dwellers of Sindh, the non-urban areas should also be provided with credit facilities to construct their residential houses, establish businesses and trades. Stringent screening processes should be put in place to ensure genuine and qualified applicants to benefit from this facility.
Sindhis and Jobs
No plan, program, ‘reform’, scheme, etc. should be imposed on Sindh without prior consent or permission of the people of Sindh obtained via their representatives, elected through a credible electoral process. The people of Sindh have for a long time been discriminated against in all the fields of employment and work. Those who have been in power have throughout the history of Pakistan, grabbed all jobs in the public and the private sector.
This menace is only growing out of all proportions. It is time to fix this shameful wrong. The process of large-scale retrenchment of Sindhis from jobs in public sector should be stopped forthwith. Transfers of Sindhi officers, for blackmail or penalty should be stopped forthwith. There is a rampant attitude of partiality, bias, and discrimination against Sindhis in all of the employment recruiting committees and agencies and with officers of the public and private sector.
This shows in practical terms in shape of non-recognition of degrees diplomas of the educational institutions of Sindh. This anti-Sindhi attitude and behavior should be stopped. Government and private recruiting agencies should be specifically instructed to recognize and accept the degrees / diplomas of different colleges and universities of Sindh.
The decades old unfair employment practices and the disparaged treatment of the people of Sindh should be reversed through Equal Employment Opportunities in Sindh. Unemployment allowance must be provided to all young persons who have qualified from professional institutions as doctors, engineers, agricultural and business graduates, according to their educational qualifications, until they are employed.
At least seventy five percent jobs should be given to the local population in private organizations like Fauji Foundation, Union Texas, Lasmo Oil, Mari Gauge, M.C.B. Allied Bank, etc. and it should be strictly implemented. There should be a provision of strict legal punishment in case of non-observance of Equal Opportunities systems. Provincial and civilian jobs including jobs in law enforcing agencies, army, rangers, coast guards, constabulary and other para-military forces must be extended to local people.
Proper share in jobs of Foreign Service, judiciary, ambassadorial and diplomatic services should be ensured and legal framework provided for implementation of fair employment practices in multinational companies. Sindhis should be given their legitimate representation in the Boards of Governors in all public and private sector as well as autonomous organization, including Pakistan International Airline, Civil Aviation Authority, Banks, Developmental Organizations, Financial Institutions, Water and Power Development Authority, Pak Telecom, Port Qasim, Karachi Port Trust, National Highway Authority, Railways, Steel Mill, Sui Southern Gas Company, Oil and Gas Development Corporation, State Life Insurance Corporation and other autonomous and semi-autonomous organizations.
Equal Business Opportunities for SindhisDiscrimination of Sindhis in issuance trade permits, industry and export-import licenses, gasoline stations, transport, big and small factories, fertilizer, medicines and agencies and businesses related to commodities of common use, be stopped forthwith and they should be given due opportunities in the same. Licenses of Arms and Ammunition should be given for self-protection to Sindhis living in areas abounding in terrorists and dacoits.
Equal Status of Sindhi language in Pakistan
The right of Sindhis to get education in their mother tongue is denied in Karachi, Hyderabad, and other big cities. Its role as a regional language is also threatened by concept of Urdu as the sole national language of Pakistan as well as this province of Sindh. Pakistan governments have always blindly insisted on Pakistan as monolingual, monocultural, monoreligious society, which it is not. Therefore, Sindhi language should be declared national language along with other languages. In order to support transition to this natural state of multilingual society special research grants and scholarships should be provided for students and scholars to carry out research on languages and culture that has been denied during the previous half century.
A great deal of dissatisfaction has been expressed during the last few years over malfunctioning of educational and cultural institutions of Sindh, inefficiency of staff, and lack of infra structure and hardware for proper functioning. Inquiries should be held in this connection with excesses done in educational, literary and cultural organizations, colleges and universities of Sindh. Competent, dutiful and honest officers should be appointed in these institutions and adequate budget should be provided on emergency basis to solve their financial difficulties. Such institutions include Sindh University, Agricultural University Tando Jam, Mehran Engineering University Jamshoro, Quaid-e- Awam Engineering University Nawabshah, Shah Lateef University Khairpur, Chandka Medical College Larkana, Peoples Medical College Nawabshah, Sindhi Adabi Board, Sindhology, Sindh Text Board, Sindhi Language Authority, Bhitshah Cultural Center and Sachal Chair. All of which should be developed and upgraded in standard and functioning, keeping in view the Sindhi society, culture, knowledge and national needs and spirit.
There has been an on-going process of destroying the linguistic, cultural, and educational heritage of Sindh by politicizing places of education and creating conditions of terrorism and violence at the campuses, and ignoring the needs of the Sindhi students in scholarships and other academic processes. In national as well as international activities of Culture and Sports, Sindhis have always been ignored. This should be stopped and Sindhis should be afforded full opportunities and the excesses done to Sindhis in the past, should be redressed. The officers handling national and international scholarships have mishandled such educational assistance schemes available from the Federal and Provincial governments in the past.
There has been a criminal practice of withholding or delaying information from Sindhi students and scholars so that they were not able to apply at the proper time for such scholarship. On the other hand, there has been a rampant practice of providing such facilities and selecting people of certain areas. These practices have caused a sense of deep deprivation to Sindhis and in practical terms the education system in Sindh has suffered as a result. Both students and scholars have been deprived from foreign, national, and local scholarships. Provision should be made to encourage participation of Sindhi students in such schemes to avail of such opportunities and facilities when offered.
Sindh and its bright starsKeeping in view the way, Sindhi poets, scholars actors and artistes [e.g. Ustad Bukhari, Tariq Ashraf, Rasheed Bhati, Najam Abbasi, Faqir Muhammad Lashari, Tanveer Abbasi, Feroze Gul, Usuf Ali, Muhammad Juman, Sarmad Sindhi, Mai Bhagi, Mahmood Siddiqui, Alan Faqir, Aalam Channa, Qamar Soomro, Muhammad Ibrahim, Mohan Bhagat, Noor Muhammad Lashari, Muhammad Yousif and others were ignored and not looked after in their last moments of life by the Culture Department and their attitude of inattention towards their heirs was totally negative and apathetic. The arrangements should be made for proper treatment of all needy poets, scholars and artistes through the Culture Department. An appropriate policy should be framed to address this issue appropriately.
Sindhis and the public Media
The Federal Government has always misused the electronic as well as the print media in the sense of allocation of time for national or local coverage. Both Radio and TV channels discriminate against the indigenous people of Sindh. Therefore, an exclusive TV and Radio channels must be introduced for local language programs. Before such radio and TV channels are deployed, 50% share of air time should be allocated to Sindhi programs.
Advertisements for Sindhi media
Due to scarcity of Sindhi newspapers and magazines in the country, all Sindhi newspapers should be given due share of government advertisements.
Stoppage of advertisements to newspapers on account of their policies, as a retaliatory and punitive measure, should be stopped forthwith. Both the administration and the politicians often harass Sindhi journalists. They should be given protection from administrative retaliation and blackmail of bureaucrats and the Waderas. They should be given proper representation in delegations for coverage at home and abroad, according to their capabilities.
Peace in the subcontinent
SANA supports all peace initiatives in South Asia to bring people and the governments of the region closer to each other. The governments of bothPakistan and India should play their full concerted and mutual role to bring about peace, equality and progress in the region. The two governments should sit together to put an end to the arms race in the subcontinent so that cultural and trade relations be strengthened. We urge both governments of India and Pakistan to make serious commitment in reducing arms of mass destruction by 20% before the end of year 2002.
Bring the killers to the justice Impartial judicial inquiry should be ordered into the political murders; e.g. those of ZA Bhutto, Fazil Rahoo, Yousif Jakhrani, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, etc. The hidden hands behind these assassinations, political instigation and permanent vested interests, should be exposed before the international community and culprits should be punished severely. Credible steps should be taken to stop such politically motivated murders in future.